modern artists

Wisconsin State Farmer

Some modern artists like to make something out of nothing by using discarded metal, signs, cans, tools, machine parts and other trash to form useful and artistic pieces of art. One of the most popular discards are metal crown bottle caps from soda bottles. The crown cap, the type used on soda bottles, was invented in 1892. Soon ads and logos were printed on the caps, and they were considered trash after the bottle contents were emptied. But they were colorful and round, so eventually large pieces were created, like bottle-cap chains strung with hundreds of caps and smoking stands made from the chains. Caps were painted and used as game pieces like checkers, and a trivet shaped like a bunch of grapes was made from caps covered with crocheted yarn. There also were planters, purses, bottle-cap "buttons" made with magnets and jewelry, especially cross-shaped pendants. Many can be found pictured online, but the most popular are the man and woman figures made as a Boy Scout project in the 1950s. The figure 
       had arms and legs made with strings and caps, a wooden body and head, and it held a small colored aluminum bowl. The women often had hoop earrings and colorful costumes. Pairs were dressed and named appropriately as "Calypso" or "Trampman." But a modern artist named Rick Ladd made the most spectacular and artistic pieces - a chair and footstool - in 1991. Loops of bottle-cap chains, flat wooden frame sections decorated with caps that show the original brand art, and glass formed a 20-inch-high chair and footstool. They sold at a recent Skinner auction in Boston for $492. A matching chest of drawers brought $884, and a picture frame sold for $677.
Q: I have a wardrobe trunk made by Industructo Trunk Co. that belonged to my great-grandmother. She was married in 1895 and died in the 1930s. The trunk has her monogram on it. When the trunk is standing on end, the left end opens up a rod that holds hangers. It has drawers and a hat box in it as well. It's been years since it was opened, since my youngest locked it when he was five and I don't have a key. It will have to go to a locksmith. I think the trunk is made of fiberboard. Any information would be greatly appreciated.
A: The Indestructo Trunk Co. was owned by National Veneer Products, a company founded in Mishawaka, Indiana, in 1901. Indestructo Trunk Co. was sold to Dodge Co. in 1909 and was sold again in 1924. It closed in 1934. The company made large steamer trunks, wardrobe trunks and other luggage. The trunks were less expensive than other manufacturers' trunks and were guaranteed to withstand "the hardest wear" and would be repaired or replaced if damaged within five years of purchase. You have a wardrobe trunk, popular when people took long trips by boat or train. Some wardrobe trunks include places for shoes, boxes for toiletries, mirrors, privacy curtains, and other special items. Wardrobe trunks are big, heavy and not convenient storage, so they are not popular with collectors and are very hard to sell.
  Q: I just got what looks like a copper luster teapot marked "Wade England." The lid has a genie with his arms folded. The bottom of the teapot is marked "The Genie Teapot." What is it worth?
A: Wade pottery is made by The Wade Group of Potteries, which started near Burslem, England, in 1810. Several potteries merged to become George Wade & Son, Ltd., early in the 20th century, and other potteries have been added through the years. The Genie teapot was made in the 1970s and sells for less than $30.
Q: My sisters and I inherited a 40-binder collection of non-sports cards that range from 19th-century tobacco cards through cards printed in the 1970s. None of the cards have been graded. How do we go about establishing the value of the collection?
A: Tobacco cards were first included in cigarette packs in the 1870s to keep the package from getting crushed when they were shipped. Cards featured pictures of athletes, entertainers, famous people and historical figures and scenes. You can contact (Professional Sports Authenticator), a grading and authentication company, or an auction house that sells advertising and sports memorabilia. You also can take the cards to a local dealer to get an idea of value. Grading cards requires expert knowledge. You can contact auctions and dealers who sell similar cards to learn value. You will be charged for the expert's time and experience.
  Q: I have a funny cookie jar that is marked "Oscar U.S.A." It is a little boy's head. He has a big smiling red lip and a red hat that is the lid.
A: Your cookie jar was made by Robinson Ransbottom Co. of Roseville, Ohio. Cookie jars were made there about 1920 but Oscar isn't in the catalog until 1943. He was made with a blue or a red hat.
Tip: Be very careful when handling old bottles or medical equipment. The remains of old drugs, even toxic materials, may still cling to the surface. A broken bit of glass or a sliver could let these toxic materials reach your bloodstream.
         Need prices for your antiques and collectibles? Find them at, our website for collectors. You can find more than 1,000,000 prices and more than 11,000 color photographs that help you determine the value of your collectibles. Study the prices. Go to the free Price Guide at The website also lists publications, clubs, appraisers, auction houses, people who sell parts or repair antiques, show lists and more. adds to the information in this column.
         Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer questions sent to the column. By sending a letter with a question and a picture, you give full permission for use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names, addresses or email addresses will not be published. We cannot guarantee the return of photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The amount of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, (Name of this newspaper), King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.


Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.
         Soldering iron, welding tool, iron rod, copper head, tapered with four-sided point, turned wooden handle, c. 1910, 13 x 2 inches, $20.
         Norman Rockwell decanter, April Fools, Saturday Evening Post 1943 cover, ceramic with 23-karat gold, 9 1/2 inches, $60
         Advertising weight scale, Starkist, Sorry Charlie, Charlie the Tuna, bubbles, metal, dial window, 1972, 11 x 13 inches, $105.
         Foot stool, cast iron, scroll supports and arched feet, green tweed upholstered cushion, 1920s, 16 x 21 inches, $220.
         Nautical pressure gauge, Submarine, brass frame, round dial, mounting holes, Howaldtswerke-Deusche Werft, c. 1860, 8 inches, $425.
         Humpty Dumpty bank, mechanical, push lever, puts coin in mouth, closes eyes, cast iron, paint, c. 1880, 6 x 8 inches, $510.
         Game, poker set, clay chips, red, white, blue and yellow numbered disks, chip rack, wooden lift top box, handles and latch, 1800s, $875.
         Terrestrial globe, illuminated glass, copper frame, Atlas figure supporting world, base, France, 1930s, 21 x 14 inches, $1,550.
         Handel lamp, glass shade, Arborvitae Sunset, orange and green, scalloped edge, bronze tree trunk base, c. 1910, 31 x 62 inches, $2,250.
         Overbeck, vase, figures walking in rain, holding umbrellas, white over mint green, baluster shape, 5 inches, $5,950.
         "Kovels' Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide, 2017," 49th edition, is your most accurate source for current prices. It's available now and includes a special bonus section that tells you how to declutter the Collector's way and make money! If you order directly from the Kovels, you'll receive our FREE Companion eBook with ALL of the book's 25,000 prices - ready for downloading to your eReader. "Kovels" is the best book to own if you buy, sell or collect. The paperback has more than 2,500 color photographs and over 700 categories of antiques and collectibles. You'll also find hundreds of factory histories. Available for $29.99 plus $4.95 postage. Purchase directly from the Kovels if you want the free eBook Companion and be sure to include your email address. Visit, call 800-303-1996, or write to Price Book, P.O. Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.

This bottle-cap chair has a Westclox Baby Ben clock set into the top of the back and cup holders in the ends of the arms.